The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, all unharmed black men or boys at the hands of white police officers, has caused a flurry of protests, violence, and a plethora of opinions.
Some people focus on the violence as if that is all there is. Of course the looters and arsonists should feel the full force of the law, but let's not let that detract from the real issue.
The fact is that all over America, black families sit their young men down for "The Talk," schooling them in how to respond to a police officer who sees them as a threat because they may be in a white community, or may be out late at night.
The real issue is: Does the justice system serve both the black community and the police equally? Recent demonstrations throughout the Country suggest it does not. It is clear the Grand Jury system arouses suspicion and mistrust and should be replaced with a special prosecutor not in bed with the police department. This, coupled with a retraining program for police, may go a long way toward restoring confidence in the people sworn to protect and serve.
Was Officer Darren Wilson doing his duty that evening in Ferguson? Although the evidence seems to suggest so we will never know because Officer Wilson was never cross examined, and the prosecutor introduced evidence only he deemed relevant. Eric Gardner was placed in an illegal choke hold and died for peddling loose cigarettes on a corner in Staten Island. The officer responsible was no-billed. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy, was shot by a white police officer while playing with a toy gun.
Jim Barber has said in a recent letter to the editor that the media "canonize thugs such as Michael Brown." It is unclear if Barber was also referring to Eric Garner and 12-year-old Tamir Rice as thugs. I would like one example of the media canonizing thugs. Barber knows nothing of Michael Brown save for what has been released to the media. Dismissing 18-year-old Michael Brown as a 'thug' reveals more about Barber than it tells us about Brown. Charles Barkley, a sports celebrity, has stated "the only people afraid of the cops are crooks," a patently untrue whitewash. Barkley is Barber's new hero, not because Barkley is right, he is not; but because Barkley reinforces Barber's own prejudices.